Since last year’s Cornish holiday snaps, David Cameron’s sunburned form in a state of partial undress has exercised a powerful grip on the popular imagination. So much so that today Labour’s Pamela Nash announced that she “might have nightmares this evening about the Prime Minister modelling Speedos on his world tour”.
The Prime Minister had told the Tory Mike Freer, in whose constituency the tight-fitting briefs are made, that “we were pushing Speedos as hard as we could” on his recent trade-boosting trip to China. Still, he begged to “reassure the honourable Lady that Speedo makes shorts as well as Speedos, so I hope I can clear that picture out of her mind”.
Cameron could be chivalrous since it was largely his day, thanks to the unemployment figures, the arrival of Tory Newark victor Robert Jenrick and, amid some early-onset World Cup mania, Labour’s Mike Kane unwittingly playing straight man by suggesting Cameron ask Roy Hodgson “for some tips on discipline” after the May-Gove shoot-out.
Cameron backed both miscreants, declaring: “If you have a strong team… stick with them, and keep on putting it in the back of the net.” It would be nice to think this will be the last creaky Prime Ministerial football metaphor for a while. But hopelessly unrealistic.
Ed Miliband could have said inflation was rising faster than wages. But then he would have had to provoke Tory backbench jeers by first welcoming the jobless figures. So for Labour – today at least – it was a case of “it’s not the economy, stupid”.